No appeasing China
Taiwan's failure to enter the World Health Organization (WHO) as an observer is not just a result of realism in international politics. It is a reflection of the indifferent minds of politicians from all over the world, who turned a blind eye to the suffering of people in Taiwan in order to appease China -- the country that gave birth to the disease itself.
In this year's World Health Assembly, China's domineering opposition to including Taiwan in the global health network was supported by many countries. These countries thought that by appeasing China's disease concealment and demonstrating their ignorance of the right of Taiwanese people to live healthily, on the one hand, and rejecting Taiwan's request to participate in the enhancement of human health on the other, that SARS would, magically, never pass their national boundaries and threaten the lives of their own citizens.
Inconceivably, those countries believed that the political totem of "one sovereign Chi-nese state" upheld by China could eventually expel the evils that SARS brought upon the Taiwanese and that SARS is only happening in another reality that will never bring them any direct impact on their lives.
It seemed that the late British prime minister Neville Chamberlain's ghost lingered at the WHA through his speech delivered on Sept. 27, 1939: "However much we may sympathize with a small nation confronted by a big and powerful neighbor ? If we have to fight, it must be on larger issues than that."
What happened on Monday was not an unprecedented event in history, however. More than half a century ago, the same theme took place in a different story. In 1936, Adolf Hitler mobilized his troops and claimed victory over the Rhineland under the banner of "reoccupation" -- which differs from "invasion" only in political rhetoric. Though the German army was given strict orders to retreat in case of resistance, the world chose to be silent on German's military engagement.
To quench the tyrants' thirst for blood, Britain and France agreed to concede the Sudetenland within Czechoslovakia to Germany in 1939. Just before the outbreak of war, Western democracies finally realized that appeasement allowed Nazi Germany to become expansionary and unstoppable. However, it was too late.
Globalization entails increasing human contact and interaction. SARS can and will sneak through national boundaries and the international community will have to deal with it sooner or later.
Leaving Taiwan out in the cold is just another concession plan the world seems to enjoy, but it is as dangerous as leaving the Rhineland unguarded in a war against the Nazi blitzkrieg.
Taiwan should not be excluded from the WHO when it is fighting a disease that can threaten the lives of all humans. And Taiwan will keep voicing to the world in the same spirit that British prime minister sir Winston Churchill cried in his speech broadcast Feb. 9, 1941: "Put your confidence in us ? Give us the tools and we will finish the job."
Over the past few years, China has done quite a few shameful things in the UN to bolster its fictional claim to control Taiwan. When a horrible earthquake struck Taiwan in 1999, killing at least 2,000 people, China accepted condolences from the UN for the quake victims even though China itself did not send rescue teams and did not cancel its 50th national day celebrations to mourn the loss of its "Taiwan compatriots."